It is when I think about the “who” (and no, I don’t mean the British rock band), that the lump begins to form in my throat, and my eyes well up with tears. I am so glad I have been freed from getting all emotional and weepy (not). God is shaping a family and I have been privileged to taste and see the goodness of God in and through Jesus’ family. Today I think about six “who’s”.
One of the things I often challenged our church family at Faith Community with, was the understanding that we’re here for those who aren’t here yet. God has called us to be disciple makers where we are. As long as we have breath we are privileged to make the glory of God known, that He has a life for us that has meaning and purpose, even (maybe especially) in the pain of this broken world. Jesus gave his life, so we can know true life, and invite others into His life. We all benefit from God’s goodness. We live in a world that “takes”. We come to life in Jesus because of the gospel, saturated by the generosity of God. We need to be reminded moment-by-moment that God has freely given us all things to enjoy and share (1 Tim 6:17-18). Our faithfulness today will lead to a new generation of Jesus’ family, by His great grace.
The family who sends. I am now, at this advanced age, experiencing at least my fourth “sending”. That could mean people really want me out of “here”, but I kinda don’t think so some days. In the 80’s I was sent by Area Bible Fellowship to train for ministry at Moody Bible Institute. In the late 80’s I was sent by Palatine Bible Church (IL) to serve with Slavic Gospel Association. In the mid 90’s I was sent by Faith Community Church of Hudson, WI to plant Faith Community, New Richmond, WI, and now in this not-so-new century, FCCNR is sending me around the world to train leaders for the church with Training Leaders International. I look forward to our commissioning Oct. 29. Jill and I have had to say “good-bye” many times, and there is always a “hole” that Jesus fills, then floods with His presence and His people. As I have entered into a new and challenging season of support-raising I am so encouraged as God expands this “sending team”. Generous people from every era and every place are sharing in this, even though they don’t even know each other. I look forward to the day I might introduce you all. With every “sending” we ache for “home”. We have need for more who would like to share in this work, so if you would like more information please text/call 715.410.6806.
I think about the team I’m privileged to serve alongside. I don’t know many of the TLI team very well yet, but even in these early days I’m encouraged by these humble gospel drenched servants. As the pastor of a local church there were a bunch of challenges all the time. (My memory is an invitation to pray consistently for pastors!) To consider that this next season of ministry would have a much more concentrated focus of training leaders for the church, is amazing! Even as we connect in our new church family, I’ve been asked by Hope Community Church, Minneapolis to mentor a couple of emerging leaders. If all I knew of this world was from the news I might just go hide in a closet, but when I see the heart of young leaders Jesus is calling for His Church, I find hope! It’s true in Uganda. It’s true in New Richmond, WI. It’s true in Minneapolis, MN. And it is true right where you stand, right now!
Those we are privileged to teach. So far, I have only had the privilege of experiencing TLI’s training with one group of people in Northern Uganda. I am scheduled to leave for Uganda once again on Nov. 1. This time I will be serving as the “TLI guy”, with the St Croix Valley LEAD Team, a team (SCVLT) I have have had the joy of being part of for more than twenty years. When our pastoral transition at FCCNR was in full swing I told the guys in Uganda it was unlikely I would see them again until we were with Jesus. By God’s grace that has changed. It appears I will have the joy of seeing these precious people soon.
Due to some recent events, an opportunity opened for me to add a week of teaching in Tanzania. So, now I leave for Africa Nov. 1 and return Nov. 19.
…who will be able to teach others also… The aim of teaching faithful teachers to handle the Word of God with skill and joy, and passion, must never end there. 2 Tim. 2:2 lets us know God also has His purposes set on “those who aren’t here yet”. God is a multiplier of disciples, of churches, of His glory! He is faithful to send flawed but faithful men and women to teach flawed but faithful men and women, who He will use to raise up a new generation of flawed but faithful men and women, following a flawless King.
The Preeminent Who – our King. The Lord Jesus is who we serve. When I look at my own heart, after all these years, I see even more clearly these ever present flaws and failings. I could be overcome by that if the glory and power of Jesus were not even more clearly visible to this worshipping heart. Jesus is, and has, and will overcome all things to bring me to glory. His faithfulness is my hope, not my own. I see the beauty of the Spirit of God at work in me as He overcomes my own weaknesses and humbles me to live in His strength. And so, we serve our great King with joy.
Hebrews 2:8-13 (ESV) Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. 9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”
13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.”
And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.”